Homer, Herodotus, and the coverage of the Iraqi war reveal a great deal about the gradual loss of mythology in modern Western culture. Herodotus' recording of history was the first movement towards the end of oral mythology, and marked the beginning of a move toward modern methods of recording history. Today, the immediacy of modern media's telling of the war in Iraq further eliminates the possibility for the development of mythology in our culture. Immediacy destroys the potential for event to turn into mythology, by removing the need for stories to be told and retold, thus leading to embellishment and the ultimate creation of mythology from fact.
Herodotus was the world's first known historian. In recording written history, he broke from the long tradition of oral storytelling used by the Greeks. Herodotus' aim was ambitious and remarkable for its time: He aimed for no less than to record the history of the Greek state. Notes Herodotus in his Histories, "These are the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, which he publishes, in the hope of thereby preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done, and of preventing the great and wonderful actions of the Greeks and the Barbarians from losing their due meed of glory; and withal to put on record what were their grounds of feuds."
In contrast, Homer represented the long Greek tradition of the oral telling of Greek mythology. While his accounts were written, tales like his famed Iliad were simply a written copy of the oral tales designed for amusement. Although Homer's influence is clear in Herodotus' writing, (Herodotus website), Herodotus' recording of history is a ultimately a movement towards the end of oral mythology, and a move toward modern methods of recording history (Lendering).
Today's tradition of telling the story of the Iraqi war is a departure from both Herodotus and Homer. Today, the news media plays a large role in telling the ongoing story of the war. One effect is of immediacy: we receive the story as it is happening either by television, radio, the Internet, or through more…
Sources Used in Document:
CNN.com. U.S., Iraqi police dispute death toll in ambushes.
01 December 2003. http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/12/01/sprj.irq.main/index.html
Herodotus website. 01 December 2003. http://www.herodotuswebsite.co.uk/essays/Homer.htm
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